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Durham Music Societies

Durham University offers a unique opportunity to become part of a thriving community of student-run societies. Whether you are interested in directing, producing, performing or working back-stage there is an inexhaustible list of ways to get involved with your societies of choice. Durham student societies are exceptional in that they are totally controlled by the students that run them, giving everyone the opportunity to take part in ambitious, dynamic and creative ventures in whichever way they can. And if there is not yet a society for your area(s) of interest, then the Durham Students Union will do everything they can to help you set up your own society. Here is a list of some of the student-run societies operating around Durham University.

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“The incredibly diverse musical life of Durham astounds me still - nowhere else could someone perform the Countess (Marriage of Figaro), Renaissance music in the Chapter House of the Cathedral, a female barbershop gig for a Royal College of Surgeons function, one-to-a-part Purcell, Spem in Alium, and saxophone quartet gigs in the same month! ”

Emily Owen, Graduated June 2010 from Hatfield College

Durham University Orchestral Society

Durham University Orchestral Society, comprising the Chamber Orchestra and Symphony Orchestra, is entirely student run and provides students at Durham with the chance to perform music to as high a standard as possible. The society was founded over 40 years ago, making it the longest running orchestral society in Durham. It has grown over the years and now strives to keep up and build upon its good reputation. DUOS often collaborates with other societies in Durham including the Choral Society and Opera Ensemble providing more performance opportunities for its players as well as helping to provide high standard musical performances in Durham. Definitely a highlight of recent years was the performance in March 2012 of the world premiere of Stanford’s Violin Concerto No. 2, orchestrated by Professor Jeremy Dibble. Each year the society goes on tour in the Easter vacation. Past destinations have included: Venice, Barcelona, and Vienna. This year we are very excited to be performing in Prague. Players are auditioned at the start of each academic year. Please get in touch or visit our facebook page or website for more information!

Durham University Big Band

Durham University Big Band is an 18-piece jazz band, comprising Durham University's finest jazz musicians, committed to advancing the highest musical standards. The band performs new, challenging and high quality jazz across the North East, London and Europe to a variety of audiences. We perform regularly at Durham University events, college balls and compete in local competitions, including the Great North Big Band Jazz Festival where we were crowned Overall Winners, Best Section and Best Programme 2011.

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Durham University Chamber Choir

Durham University Chamber Choir has been called the foremost student-run choir in Durham, providing the highest standard of choral music in concerts throughout the year.  Formed of twenty of the finest singers of the University, the Chamber Choir performs regularly in Durham Cathedral and large scale venues across the country.

Durham University Choral Society

The Durham University Choral Society, affectionately known as DUCS, is one of Durham University's largest and oldest musical groups, having performed continuously at a high standard for around seventy years. The society is very friendly and welcoming to new members and you will soon feel right at home singing with us every Monday!

Every year, DUCS members perform in a variety of concerts at iconic venues such as Durham Cathedral, with quality accompaniment from fellow Durham student musicians (for example the Durham University Orchestral Society). Professional soloists are employed for our concerts, but experienced singers in the society receive many opportunities for solos and smaller ensemble singing - the society is proud of its range of talent.

Musical direction comes from our new conductor, Michael Summers, with a repertoire drawn from across the Classical spectrum - Bach to Bernstein.

New members are recruited with short auditions which test vocal range, sight-reading ability and aural skill. Although commitment to weekly rehearsals on Monday evenings is essential, the society is welcoming and sociable. Few forget the experience of singing with dozens of friends to a full capacity audience in the magnificent Durham Cathedral.

For more information, please visit our website ( or our Facebook page (

Durham University Concert Band


Durham University Concert Band is a friendly, non-auditioning group open to all brass, woodwind and percussion players. Since they are non-auditioning, new members of all abilities can join at any time throughout the year and they are always welcomed! Their weekly rehearsals are friendly and relaxed, and they always aim to make their music both accessible and musically challenging. The band’s repertoire is vast and varied — Their programmes include film scores, Broadway musicals, Latino and salsa pieces, full concert band suites and classical works arranged specifically for the band. They are committed to playing new music and arrangements as much as possible, so you can guarantee that they won’t be playing the same tunes every term! They usually have at least three concerts a year, including at least one outdoors.

The band isn’t just about playing music though, as we hold frequent socials throughout the year. As well as meals, bar crawls and post-concert drinks, we have recently travelled to see concerts and musicals in Durham and beyond. Rehearsals are from 2–4pm every Sunday in the Music Department on Palace Green.

Durham Opera Ensemble

Durham Opera Ensemble (DOE) is a vibrant student society involved in the performance and appreciation of opera. They produce 2 or 3 productions each year, with the cast, orchestra and production team all drawn from the student body.
Over the last few years DOE has put on a large work during Epiphany term in Castle Great Hall. In conjunction with Durham University Orchestral Society (DUOS), recent productions have included Bizet's 'Carmen', Johann Strauss' 'Die Fledermaus' and Vaughan-Williams' 'The Poisoned Kiss'. Along with similar scale and smaller works in a variety of venues around Durham, the society also puts on an annual concert of opera excerpts entitled Opera Favourites.
For further information about the society and our current and past productions, please visit their website here... Alternatively, feel free to contact the exec at

DUPO (Durham University Palatinate Orchestra)


The Durham University Palatinate Orchestra is one of Durham's leading Symphony orchestras. With its membership approaching 80 in number this year, the orchestra is going from strength to strength performing some very challenging but exciting repertoire. Past concerts have included; Tchaikovsky Symphony No.s 4 and 6, Brahms Symphony No. 2, Shostakovich Jazz Suite No. 2, Walton Prelude and Fugue 'The Spitfire', Sibelius Symphony No. 5 and many other great pieces.

They are a relaxed and friendly auditioning orchestra who produced music to a high level whilst enjoying an active social scene too. An annual tour ends the year after an intense set of rehearsals during 'DUPO week' which gives the orchestra a chance to do something different after exams. Purely student run, their aim is to provide orchestral musicians with a place to play challenging but fun repertoire in a welcoming atmosphere, ending each term's work with a concert of very high quality music. Auditions take place at the start of each academic year.

Durham University Voices


DUV is a vibrant and enthusiastic choir with a wide and varied repertoire. They do not hold auditions, but still maintain a high quality, professional and fun choir for keen singers.   Love singing? Hate auditions? As the only non-auditioning choir, Durham University Voices (DUV) provides a relaxed, enjoyable environment in which to sing, with their rehearsals being hard work but still great fun! It's a really big, friendly choir whose rehearsals provide a welcome break from work, and a chance to meet up and sing with friends. Because they have regular social events too, DUV is not only a choir, but a close-knit group of friends. Their repertoire covers a wide range of musical styles, ranging from gospel and classical pieces to pop and musical theatre. With sacred and secular, from Masses to Mash-ups — we've already ticked off Newcastle and Durham Cathedrals amongst our list of exciting concert venues.
After last year's epic collaboration with 100 voices and 2 Beatboxers, they have a Multimedia Themes concert planned for this Epiphany term and a busy Christmas Concert Schedule to come. All this is in addition to University events, and their traditional Christmas carol singing and summer busking. There's something for everybody!   DUV is perfect for those who have had previous experience of singing in choirs, although it is not essential that you are able to read music. The most important thing is that you love to sing.

Durham University Hill Orchestra

Durham University Hill Orchestra (also known as DUHO) is a student-run, non-auditioned orchestra which maintains a fun, relaxed atmosphere while striving for a high musical standard. Despite our name we accept all Durham students who wish to perform with us. We play a wide range of orchestral music, from film music such as John Williams’ Star Wars, to more classical repertoire such as Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. Our rehearsals take place at 8 – 10pm on Wednesday nights in St. Aidan’s College Dining Hall. We perform in two concerts at the end of Michaelmas and Epiphany terms, and after exams in the Summer term we have gone on tour to such locations as to Paris, the Netherlands, Belgium and Edinburgh.

Durham University Brass Band

The Durham University Brass Band is a vibrant society committed to showing the university the meaning of banding! Based in the music department, we rehearse weekly and put on regular concerts, perform for a variety of events and also participate in a national brass band competition. Except for certain positions, the band is non auditioning, promoting the ethos of inclusion and welcoming players of all abilities. We play a wide variety of music from traditional brass band marches and Proms style classics, to your favourite 90s hits, much of it written and arranged by our own players.